Everything You Need to Know About Arthroscopy

Arthroscopy

Are you experiencing knee problems? You may have been referred to an orthopedic surgeon for arthroscopy and may be wondering ‘what is arthroscopic surgery?’ Arthroscopic surgery is a procedure used to diagnose as well as to treat joint problems. The procedure involves the insertion of a narrow tube into the joint through a small incision. The tube is attached to a fiber optic video camera. This is used to view the join from the inside. It helps to avoid having to make a large incision. The surgeon is then able to repair damage with small surgical instruments inserted through other small incisions.

Applications of Arthroscopy

Arthroscopy is applied in the diagnosis and treatment of various joint conditions including those affecting the knee, wrist, shoulder, elbow, hip and ankle.

Diagnosis

You may be required to undergo this procedure in order for your doctor to obtain a more accurate diagnosis of your condition. This occurs when other diagnostic methods such as x-rays and scans leave questions unanswered.

Surgical treatment

Various conditions can be treated using arthroscopy. These include loose bone fragments, damaged cartilage, torn ligaments, inflamed joints and scarring in the joints.

Arthroscopy Risks

Arthroscopy is a generally safe procedure. In fact, complications resulting from the procedure are uncommon. However, some problems that may occur include:

  • Infection – this is a risk carried by any type of surgical procedure.
  • Blood clots – these are only a risk for procedures that last longer than an hour. There is a risk of blood clots forming in the lungs and in the legs.
  • Nerve or tissue damage – this may occur with poor placement or movement of instruments inserted into the joint.

Tips for Preparing for an Arthroscopy Procedure

If you are facing surgery, you may be wondering what to expect and how to prepare. This will depend on what joint is being treated. However, the tips below will apply for most procedures.

  • Ask your doctor about taking medications prior to the procedure. You may want to avoid taking dietary supplements and certain medication as they can increase the risk of bleeding.
  • Avoid eating solid foods for at least eight hours prior to the procedure. Your pre-surgery fast will depend on the type of anesthesia you will have.
  • Wear loose and comfortable clothing. For example if you’re undergoing knee scope surgery, you should wear baggy shorts for easy dressing and comfort after the procedure.
  • Arrange for transport. Don’t drive yourself home following the procedure. Be sure to have someone pick you up and check on you in the evening or the next day.

Things to Expect

Experiences during and after these procedures vary depending on the joint involved. However, there are some aspects that are standard for most procedures.

During the Procedure

You will be asked to remove your clothes and wear the hospital gown. An intravenous catheter will be placed in your hand or forearm and a mild sedative administered. The type of anesthesia used will vary depending on the procedure. Options include local, regional and general anesthesia. For procedures such as knee arthroscopy, a local anesthesia will most likely be used.

You will be placed in the best position to allow access to the joint. A small incision will be made and the viewing device inserted into the joint. Additional incisions will be made at different points to insert surgical tools required for the joint repair. After the repair is completed, all instruments will be removed and the incisions will be closed using one or two stitches or even narrow strips of surgical adhesive tape.

After the Procedure

These procedures often do not take a long time. Many last for about an hour. You may only need a few hours in the recovery room before being released to go home. Your doctor will prescribe medications to relieve inflammation and pain. Your aftercare may include:

  • RICE – rest , ice, compress and elevate the joint
  • Exercises – physical therapy and rehabilitation to strengthen the muscles and improve function
  • Protection – wearing slings or using crutches to prevent placing pressure on the joint.

You should call your doctor if you develop a fever, pain that cannot be managed by medication, swelling or redness, tingling or numbness and drainage.

Outcomes

In many cases and depending on the joint involved, you may be able to resume light activity after a few days. It is important to follow your doctor’s advice for the best outcome.

If you want to learn more about arthroscopy and how it can be of benefit to you, contact Dr Chris Boone and schedule a consultation. Learn whether you are a good candidate for our arthroscopy Bellevue treatment.

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